To echo a concept mentioned in Navezof's video, it is useful to identify which part of the design is the objective and which part is the implementation. When we ask the question "How to make a fun game?" we need to acknowledge that we are limiting the scope to the context of games, which might not be an objective, but an implementation. Prematurely deciding that you are "making a game" could limit your design space to achieve your objective.
I think what makes something fun is the anticipation of a cognitively rewarding experience.
An interaction is not fun until the participant is being cognitively rewarded, or can look forward to that.
What is cognitively rewarding for one person might be different from another person. What is fun for a person can change over time. A person can learn or unlearn what is fun to them, sometimes it has nothing to do with the interaction itself but the context and condition of their participation. To design something fun, you need to know what is fun for the target audience, or have a way to introduce the interaction so that the audience accepts that it is fun.
If you know what is fun for the target audience, then the design should have the interaction that can lead to that kind of fun, and not so much interactions that would distract or discourage the player from it. The design would also need to show the player the fun part early on so that the player can confirm and anticipate more. The "fun" of the interaction is not in the promise by the designer that the game is fun, but in the player's anticipation of it.
If the interaction is new to the player such that the player has no initial feeling on whether it is fun or not, then the game and advertisement of the game need to define and influence the player to accept that it is fun. In this case, what makes the game fun may not be in the design of the game itself, but in the advertising method that promotes it.
Some advertisement methods include:
1. You present a group of people who find the game fun, and take advantage of the human tendency to want to do things with other people and not be left behind.
2. You show people having fun playing it and let the image sips into the audience's subconscious to let them accept that it is game that is fun.
3. Instead of showing the game, you start by showing a story that makes the viewer want to participate in the story world and be able to make decisions in situations similar to those presented to the story characters.
Sometimes once this gets going, the player would start to convince themselves that what they play is fun to justify the time they spend with it. At that point, it becomes difficult to distinguish whether the game itself is fun or just because the player asserts that it is.
Edited by Wai, 03 February 2014 - 03:29 PM.